Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Brent Dragon of Milton, VT made an unexpected visit to Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl Sunday for the 42nd annual Mekkensen RV Memorial Classic and did not leave disappointed. The second-generation racer dominated the 100-lap feature race after starting on the front row next to pole-sitter Eric Williams. Williams, from Hyde Park, VT finished second with Waterbury Center, Vermont’s Chad Wheeler in third. Completing the top five were Roger Brown from Lancaster, NH and Mooers Forks, NY driver Mark Lamberton. (PHOTO: The 28-car starting field lined up in front of a huge crowd on a glorious day)

“The lapped traffic today was critical to the outcome of the race,” winner Dragon stated in Victory Lane, “ Plus,” he continued, “We’re not used to running in this kind of heat – it’s been a cool Spring. We’ll cherish this win, there’s so much history to this race - the list of winners reads like a `who’s who’.” Dragon as well as several other competitors with the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model series took advantage of a scheduled weekend off by heading to Thunder Road's high banks in preparation of a pair of $10,000 to win ACTion Super Series events at the track later in the season. The 40 year-old driver is the second Dragon is the second Dragon generation to win the Memorial Day Classic – his Uncle Bobby (Dragon) carried the checkers in 1969.

Veteran racer Williams had earned the pole starting position following the qualifying heats, which saw 34 Late Models attempt to make the starting grid. Dragon got the jump at the drop of the initial green flag and never looked back and went on to capture a victory that had eluded his father, the legendary Beaver Dragon.

Williams fell in behind the leader and the pair pulled away from the rest of the 28-car starting field. Wheeler, who had started sixth, quickly got to work and moved into third by the fifth circuit. Former Thunder Road Late Model Champion, Phil Scott from Middlesex, and past ACT Tour title-holder, Morrisville’s Pete Fecteau, along with Wheeler, hopped on the Dragon/Williams train and the group started to pull away from the field.

The front-runners set a torrid pace in the 80-plus degree weather. By the 23rd circuit, Dragon had caught the back of the field. The first car to go a lap down was defending Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic winner, Trampas Demers from So. Burlington. Other competitors soon fell like targets in a shooting arcade as first 63 laps ran non-stop allowing Dragon and the lead pack to continue their march.

The yellow flag finally waved on the 64th circuit for a spin by Marc Curtis from Worcester, MA. When the field regrouped, Dragon found himself with a cushion of several lapped cars between himself and runner-up Williams. Williams had to contend with the traffic before he could again mount a charge against the leader.

The second and final caution came out after Williams, Chad Wheeler, Roger Brown and Mark Lamberton had cleared the lapped cars. The quartet took aim at Dragon when the green flew, but none was able to formulate a strong enough offense to take the leader off of his game plan. (PHOTO BELOW RIGHT: Eric Williams (#7) lined up next to leader Dragon (#55) with the balance of the top five runners right behind)

When the checkers flew, 31:45 after the initial green, 27 of the 28 starters were still in competition. Only early contender Pete Fecteau watched from the pits after encountering over-heating problems with his machine. Twelve of the starters had completed the entire race distance.

Jay Laquerre from E. Montpelier finished sixth in his first start of the season and rookie of the year contender, Marcel Gravel from Wolcott was seventh. Completing the top ten was Shelburne’s Jamie Fisher, Phil Scott and Rich Lowrey from Charlotte.

“Brent drove a great race,” runner-up Williams stated. “After about five to ten laps under the green he was the better driver with the better car. It was a great day and a great race.”
Third place Wheeler added, “If we had gone green all the way I might have had something for Eric (Williams), but not for Brent.”

Thunder Road’s competitors are back in action on Sunday, June 4 for the previously rained out Casella Mother’s Day 100 for the Sportsman Series as well as the other three divisions. Post time is 1:30 pm.